On Saturday at Magny-Cours the Italian media gave Michael Ruben Rinaldi a 90 per cent chance of remaining a factory rider in 2023, despite many people from outside his home country saying he was definitely going to be out. Time will tell, but something has changed from within the world of Rinaldi.
The usually smiling and happy Rinaldi was a little more serious on Friday, and he explained why.
“Yes. It has been like this since the Barcelona test, and I think will continue like this for all my career, because I understand that you need to be professional in some way and also only few people's deserve some feelings from you, so I decided to be like this. And for sure.
"My goals remain the same and everything I'm going to say I just want to be more professional. And yes you can say there is a new new Michael since the Barcelona test. And you know, I will be always be a good person and stuff like this, but maybe it's time to change a little bit how you need to be with other people.”
Whatever conversation or directive had instigated this new more serious Rinaldi, it seemed to have an effect. When he was reminded that he has won races in WorldSBK and earned himself a factory ride by just being himself, he said, “Yes, but I didn't win the championship yet. And when you are in a factory team, the goal is to win the championship. So you need to upgrade even if you're doing quite good.
"But if you put me like in team GO Eleven and I do these kinds of results, I'm like a hero - but to be in a factory seat you are not. So you cannot keep being the same you need to grow and you need to change. And so it's time to change because the occasion passed really fast. And I don't want to miss opportunities. Yes, I am winning races but not fighting for the championship.
"So that means I am missing something and you be you also need to be really realistic and need to criticise yourself sometimes. And to improve not to, you know, nobody. I'm not sad. I'm just like, I will focus and let's take this a little bit more serious and put everything on the on the right way, but also you need to be focusing the mind.”
Rinaldi used a top line example of why it may be different for him to not be regarded the same way as other riders, who can have successful careers and still have fun, joking along the way but serious in the box. What about Valentino Rossi?
“If you are Valentino Rossi, you can do everything because you are a nine times world champion and people will see say he is a nine times champion, you can do whatever he wants - and I really liked the that. But when you're not a nine-time with a world champion people judge you a lot.
"And so you need to show them like before that you are professional, because if I win, you know if I was champion, and I smile I put on Instagram, funny stuff, every everybody will take it as fun. But if you're not winning championships, and you're posting the same thing, people judge in a different way.
"So this is why I changed and I'm different. For sure I'm the same good guy. If someone of my friend needs me, or one of the guys on my team, want to talk about serious things, important things I'm that guy, but you know, cannot be take it too much easy like this because people judge a lot and don't know the reality.
"What people say also on social media judge me and really don't know me so I say okay, I need to be more focus and more professional to let them know what I am really, you know, I'm the guy who's fun, who's smiling, but I'm also giving my 120 per cent in the field, but nobody's seeing this. The people just see me joking and stuff like this. I'm also that - but not only that.”